Friday, July 23, 2010

On pins and needles

I've tried so many things to alleviate my migraines -- lots of drugs and drug combinations, standard chiropractic and cervical chiropractic adjustments, adjusting my diet -- and so far, nothing has worked in a durable way. I've wanted to try acupuncture for a while, but I didn't know anyone personally who'd tried it and/or could give me a referral to a non-quack.

A couple of weeks ago, lunch with a friend led to a friend of hers recommending an acupuncturist; this woman, too, had had several migraines a week and after being treated with acupuncture weekly for a couple of months, no longer had any. She's now gone a year and a half without a migraine and gets acupuncture monthly as a preventative treatment. I could barely believe my ears ("I can even drink WINE now!" she said), so one thing led to another, and I had my first acupuncture treatment Monday.

I have to say, meeting with the acupuncturist was really different from my standard office visit with an MD. The acupuncturist took a really thorough medical history, including looking at my tongue and drawing a picture of it for my treatment chart. She spent a long time sort of pressing on my abdomen and lower rib cage. As she pressed I kept thinking "But it's my head that hurts. What is she doing?" And then -- ow! A tender spot right under my ribcage on the left. Weird. But she said "Aha!" She want to the same location on the right side, and there too was a sensitive spot. Apparently, soreness in these areas correlates to "congestion" in the liver and gall bladder. That congestion in turn correlates to headaches and migraines.

Talking through my symptoms and triggers took a long time, and then -- out came the needles. She placed several on both sides of my abdomen where the sore spots were, a couple on each of my feet, and then a couple more in the backs of my hands and forearms. My job during all this? To lie on the table and relax. It was not in the least bit painful, but the sensation coming from a few sites where the needles were placed was interesting -- sort of a tingle or radiating feeling. After about 20 minutes, she pulled out the needles. Done.

I'm going to go weekly for a while. I really hope it will provide some relief.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eliana tells the tale

I can hardly stand how cute Christina and David's kids are anyway, but Eliana's retelling of last night's adventures is almost more than I can take, cuteness wise.

Party like it's 1998

Someone seems to be a bit tuckered out today.

Someone has I think realized she's a lot closer to 105 in human years than 21, so she's paying a but of a price for last night's bacchanal. And she seems a little embarrassed about the whole thing, too, if that's possible.

Her feet are better today and based on the snoring and drooling, she's resting comfortably.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Daisy's brief but glorious life of crime

Daisy is, as I am sure most of you know, your basic small, pampered, inside dog. While remarkably spry, she is still 15 years old, so most of her adventures these days involve chasing the cat, begging for potato-based treats and sneaking upstairs to my room when I'm not looking, wriggling under the covers of my bed, and sleeping.

I have a small back yard with a largely decorative, three-foot-tall wrought iron fence around its grassy area. The whole time we've lived here, which would be nine-plus years, Daisy has never once tested the fence's integrity. The visual boundary was sufficient -- this area was her yard and she had free reign within it. But she never went outside the little fence without her leash -- never even tried to.

The guy who cuts my grass came today, and sometimes he doesn't close the little iron gate into the back yard when he finishes. Often I come home on Friday afternoons and it's half open, so I know to check it on Fridays in particular when I let Daisy outside when I get home.  Today was no different -- the first time I let Daisy out after he left this afternoon, I visually checked the gate. It was closed; out she went.

Except it wasn't closed, because after a while, I realized I'd lost track of time and went to let Daisy in -- and she was gone, the iron gate swung fully open.

The next few hours were not great. Crying. Hyperventilating. Combing the neighborhood. Berating myself for not putting my cell number on her tags. Designing and printing and hanging fliers. Calling Shu! and freaking out. Walking and driving around, calling for her, listening for her, watching the sky getting darker and darker while realizing she is 15 stinking years old and a slightly feeble inside dog, not some sort of young outdoorsy creature, and the best case scenario was that she was scared and lost somewhere.

Shu found someone on Craigslist who'd seen her at like 6:30 near the park by my house, and he talked me in to the area via Google Maps, and then as I was walking in that area, a couple said they'd seen a small dog running but didn't know what color is was. Adding to the fun -- I have no answering machine at home since I switched to cell for my main phone service. So I kept coming home every little bit and dialing *69 (like a creepy teenager) to see if anyone had tried to call while I was out looking since they couldn't leave messages. Finally at almost 10:00, pay dirt -- *69 gave me a number to a guy, Nathan, who had Daisy at his house! Which was almost a mile away in the opposite direction to where the Craigslist lady had made her sighting. Daisy Mae Clampitt had covered some ground.

With Shu! on the speaker phone I drove over -- to find Daisy drinking bottled water out of a cute little bowl surrounded by gang bangers (complete with scary tattoos and shaved heads) sitting in lawn chairs in a circle around her on the driveway. I ran to her -- she was completely unhurt, a miracle in itself -- and she looked at me puzzled, like she had no idea who this sweaty crying lady was. The guys were very sweet about the whole thing, and she hung over my shoulder, looking back at Nathan longingly as I carried her to the car for the drive home. Halfway through which she seemed to remember "Oh, right, the lady who feeds me," and climbed into my lap.

So, to sum up, Daisy is out on her own a matter of hours and manages both to join a gang and find herself a boyfriend. She is a little tender footed from her adventure (it was 103 or something crazy today, so I'm sure the the texture and warmth of the pavement have made her feet sore) but otherwise just fine. I, on the other hand, may need a little more recovery time.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and concern. And to Shu!, for his cool-headedness and rapid operational strategy. It takes a village.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The latest from Wisteria Lane

I have been home the last couple of days, weaning myself off the most recent failed anti-migraine drug. Going on the meds is always hard, but going off is definitely worse. I'm not going to lie -- it's been pretty rough. And if any of you hear me say ever again, "The doctor wants me to try a new preventative drug and I think I'm going to give it a shot!" you have my advance permission to smack sense into me or take away my prescription card or to otherwise take whatever steps are needed to intervene and make me not do it. Really.

But since the Legislature is, if not in formal recess, in sort of an informal stupor, I haven't missed much. And it turns out there are all sorts of fascinating goings on here in the neighborhood which I don't get to enjoy while gainfully employed.

For instance, the neighbor whose daughter stole my door mat and blocks me into my driveway with her car? Has apparently reunited with her husband. I know this because over the 4th of July weekend there was a giant WHOMP! sort of noise early one morning and, lo and behold, a semi dropped off one of those enormous rectangular container thingies people load their stuff in when they move. Except this one was refrigerated. (Why? Is there a moose or something in there?) Anyway, he and the rectangular thingy were both here through the long weekend. And now the container is gone but he's still here, with the Nickelback blasting. So, yay. A reunion.

The little boy next door who constantly screams continues to do so. His grandparents have been visiting so there's been lots of wiffle-ball-like behaviors followed by uproarious applause, and he's been screaming at them that he loves them, too, just like he screams at his mommy, so that's a really nice thing. At one point his grandmother said something like, "We are so proud of you!" and he screamed back, "I KNOW!" Ha.

Daisy's love of potato-based treats continues apace. I've made tater tots a couple of times over the last few days (potatoes + salt are something that's agreeing with my rebelling digestion), and both times I've caught her while they were baking licking at the opening where the oven door's hinge is and scratching at it. By the time they're out, she just paces and whines and snuffles 'til I share with her.

And I watched "Cloverfield." If you haven't seen it, please don't.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding something you didn't know was lost

My mom and I had a, shall we say, challenging relationship. We were very different kinds of people in the first place, which didn't help matters, and while we had some degree of love for each other, I don't think either of us liked the other a great deal. Then there was the brutal childhood and string of stepfathers. I wound up leaving home at 18, finding my way to Alaska through a series of misadventures (pretty much as far away from her as I could be from her and not need a work visa) and winding up in California, where I married and basically built my life as much without her as I could.

But I was an only child. So try as I might to stretch the bonds between us to near the breaking point, and I went years at one point without speaking to her, we eventually settled into a somewhat brittle relationship just as I was finishing college. Recently separated, I was more open to some sort of family, even if it wasn't exactly ideal. And she had made some changes in her life that made this a safer thing to try out.

Just about two years later she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, which she fought tooth and nail. I went home every 28 days to be with her for the weekend following every chemo treatment, and those years are a literal blur. Somehow having a pretty demanding job at the Capitol here, shuttling back and forth, managing doctors and caregivers and, eventually, hospice from afar. She died in 2001; I packed up her house (with lots of help), moved most of it to California and basically carried on.

I kept a lot of her books; I love books myself, maybe more than she did even, and though the majority of them weren't things I'd choose to read personally, it seemed like a way of keeping a piece of her close. They have been stacked in a spare bedroom in my house, mixed up with books of my own, waiting for me to find the gumption to organize them properly.

Cut to this week, when I found myself ferreting around up there for a particular book. When instead I found this.

A very old Bible. Weird that I hadn't noticed it before, but I figured it was my grandmother's, since she'd attended church. I looked inside.

It had my mother's maiden name in it. Weirder still. Then, the clincher...

It had been given to her by her father. Who died when she I was think 7 or 8.

As someone who felt so separate and apart from her mother even in the closest of moments, this remembrance of her as a little girl, as some one's daughter, bowled me over. A snapshot of her from a time when she was small enough to call her father Daddy and before all badness and craziness and disease. And now that I am a Christian, that we share some connection -- however fleeting, however small -- to the same text.

I keep turning the book over in my hands, wanting to sort of get familiar with it. Its pages are yellowed and its binding weakened, so I have to be really careful, but I've officially moved it out of the piles of books to be sorted some day and down to the family room, where I can see it every day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Maybe it's time for a webcam

I take Ambien to help me sleep.

I've had bouts of insomnia since I was little, and about six weeks or so ago, when I hadn't slept for a couple of days and I mentioned it in passing to my doctor during a migraine appointment, she prescribed Ambien. The sleeplessness might or might be a symptom or causal agent for my headaches, we agreed, but whatever the case, I should be getting some sleep. Every day.

And the sleep has been amazing. Sound sleep undisturbed by my neighbors' garage band and domestic squabbles and pool parties. I actually look forward to going to bed now and wake up feeling much more rested. But I have (apparently) been experiencing at least one of Ambien's most famous side effects -- sleep walking.

It started out with small hints of something being awry. For example, one morning I came downstairs to find the doors of my TV armoire closed. I rarely close them, since the TV runs so warm and I want air to circulate freely. I didn't remember closing it before I went to bed, but whatever.

Then there was the Peanut Butter Incident. I haven't eaten peanut butter since I made the connection between nuts and headaches, and I thought I'd thrown own my last jar. Imagine my surprise when I found an open jar on my kitchen counter one morning -- its lid off and a spoon sitting next to it. All lined up, the spoon licked clean. Apparently my unconscious mind remembered I still had peanut butter in the pantry and wanted a snack. Thankfully there weren't finger marks in the jar.

But finally this week, when I woke up on the couch in the family room with no idea how I'd gotten there -- no memory of getting a blanket out of the linen closet, going down the stairs and curling up with the pets on the couch in the middle of the night -- I had to laugh. I guess I should be worried about what all else I do in the night, that I'll sleepwalk to the garage and paw through the garbage cans like a raccoon or buy a car online or something. But truthfully, the nighttime antics have mostly amused me. The idea that there's a Sleeping Nora who has a pretty interesting life going on, with the wandering around and eating snacks and potentially watching cable.

For the time being at least, I'm going to make sure all my blinds are closed before I head to bed and keep looking for clues in the morning.

Edited to add: Eric reminded me that I also rearranged the kitchen in my sleep! I'd completely forgotten. I woke up one morning to find Sleeping Nora had moved an entire shelf of cookbooks, an espresso machine and coffee maker to different places in the kitchen. I like the arrangement just fine, as it turns out, but that was pretty weird, too.